One’s a former groundsman from the southwest slopes of NSW, the other’s a former asylum seeker from Pakistan’s notoriously volatile northwest.
It’s hard to find an odder couple in world cricket than Nathan Lyon and Fawad Ahmed.
And yet these two men from vastly different backgrounds are poised to become Australia’s latest spin twins if selected for this week’s first Test against the West Indies in Dominica.
Lyon, the laid back country lad, whose rise from Adelaide ground staff member to Test cricketer is in itself a remarkable story is the senior member of the pair, in experience if not age.
The 27-year-old has got 138 Test wickets to his name in his 39 appearances for Australia since a debut on a raging turner in Galle, Sri Lanka in 2011.
Lyon’s career has been far from smooth at Test level.
On at least two occasions he’s found himself unexpectedly dropped, most famously before the 2013 Ashes when teenager Ashton Agar got the nod for the opening two Tests of that series.
But he’s endured and, for now at least, is the country’s No.1 spinner.
Fawad, a devout Muslim who juggles his prayer times with breaks in play, doesn’t wear sponsor VB’s logo on his creams and is closing in on a Test debut at 33, says Lyon has been a helping hand for him on the early days of the tour of the Caribbean.
Lyon even put a supportive arm around his teammate after an underwhelming second spell in the first innings of Australia’s tour match in Antigua last week.
“He knew that this is my first time and he’d been through that period already in his life,” Fawad said.
“He really supported me during the break when I bowled a few bad balls after the rain. So I think he was pretty supportive and I really enjoy it because as I told you I enjoyed it with John Holland when we played in Shield cricket.
“It’s not going to be an issue.”
Fawad also invoked the names of Australia’s 1990s spin pairing of Tim May and the incomparable Shane Warne, saying he hopes to build a similar partnership with Lyon at Test level.
“It’s something different for Australian cricket for a long time,” he said.
“Shane Warne and Tim May played a bit regular but that was long, long ago and for not long Shane Warne and (Stuart) MacGill played together.
“I think it’s going to be good fun.”